Pinner’s Perspective: Kickass Karkloof

After carving through the trails in Karkloof, KZN Oli reminds us not to get consumed by the details, sometimes we must just ride our bikes!

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With a faint plume of dust streaming from their rear wheels, local pinners Sam Bull and Andre van Aarde carved their way through the tight and twisty Karkloof trails as if it were child’s play … even managing a cheeky whip or two along the way.

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The last time I was in the MTB mecca that is Karkloof, was in 2011 racing for the Mr Price GT team at the iconic Karkloof Classic. Back then it was full Lycra racing on 26” hardtails with 580mm handlebars and 3x drivetrains. It’s staggering to think how so much has changed!

Photograph By Wessel van der Walt

Photograph By Wessel van der Walt

With Serious_ Si (my twin, who currently lives in Durban) joining in for this weekend’s ride the four of us were decked out in baggy trail gear with a mix of 150mm 650b and 135mm 29er Santa Cruz trail bikes that could chew up anything in their path, while still efficiently pedalling the 40 odd kilometres that we cycled.

With crystal clear skies above, the four of us spent the morning shooting the breeze, solving the world’s problems and literally finding any excuse to stop, sit down and have a break – it was as if time itself stopped and we were the only four people alive. As memories of past Karkloof Classics flashed through my mind, I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of nostalgia – and excitement – at the fact that I was back railing through Karkloof’s expansive trail network.

Usually a hassle, even Sam ‘the cowboy’ Bull’s puncture (caused by severely dinging his rim!) was a chance to poke fun at him as well as discuss the pros and cons of 29er versus 650b wheels in Downhill (we’ll leave that hot topic for a later column).

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In the past, I often used to get caught up in the competitive side of cycling where going out for a ride was about ‘training’ as opposed to simply riding my bike with mates. Over the past few years, I’ve come to realise just how important these rides are … rides where there are no metrics or Strava segments to consume you.

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I would go as far as saying that they’re more important than any single training session as they reset your system and essentially provide the motivation to hit those watts in training. Don’t get me wrong though, there is absolutely nothing wrong with training hard, I’m saying, let’s not forget to add into the mix, those re-energising rides where time disappears and the numbers just don’t matter.

Thanks for the ride and vibe okes, let’s do it again soon!

Ciao ciao, Oli

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